anne neville, britain, duchess cecily, earl of warwick, edward iv, elizabeth woodville, fiction, foxtel, history, jacquetta, lancaster, margaret beaufort, monarchy, novels, plantagenets, politics, richard neville, royal family, series, soho, television, the kingmaker's daughter, the red queen, the white queen, wars of the roses, york
Three of Philippa Gregory’s novels in The Cousins’ War series have been adapted for a lavish 10-episode series which will premiere on Foxtel’s SoHo channel from Thursday, 5 September 2013, at 8.30 pm EST.
The series is based on the best-selling books, The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker’s Daughter which are set during the turbulent Wars of the Roses where two sides of the same family – The House of Lancaster and the House of York – battle over who is the rightful King of England.
The story opens in 1464, three years after the Yorkist Edward IV (Max Irons) was crowned King after defeating the Lancastrian Henry VI at the Battle of Towton. The fighting still continues with Lancastrian uprisings, as Henry VI and his queen, Margaret of Anjou, are still at large.
The White Queen tells the story Elizabeth Woodville’s (Rebecca Ferguson) sudden rise from impoverished war widow to Queen of England, from her perspective, as well as those of Margaret Beaufort who schemes for her own son to become king, and Anne Neville (Faye Marsay) who becomes a pawn in her father’s bid to retain his power.
Edward falls in love and secretly marries the beautiful commoner, after she refuses to become his mistress, as she was fully aware of his reputation. It causes a furore for the ever-glowering Earl of Warwick (James Frain) who constantly butts in with his condescending remarks towards Elizabeth and her family as “commoners”.
Warwick is furious because his carefully laid plans for a foreign marriage and an alliance with France were thwarted. He will do whatever it takes to maintain control over the young king – even if it means starting another war and deposing Edward, and putting his brother George, Duke of Clarence (David Oakes) on the throne.
As far as ripping yarns go, The White Queen isn’t a bad one, especially for Philippa Gregory fans, as it is a tale of love and loss, seduction and deception, as well as betrayal and murder, which are based on real historical events. However, this series also has its fair share of historical inaccuracies.
Not to mention the nastiness and snobbishness between Duchesss Cecily (Caroline Goodall), Jacquetta (Janet McTeer) and Elizabeth upon the latter’s arrival at court. Duchess Cecily (Caroline Goodall) makes it clear she does not approve of Elizabeth. Warwick and his Countess believe Edward had married beneath him.
There is no evidence that Jacquetta or Elizabeth ever used witchcraft to take revenge against their enemies, or to bring about events which are now part of British History.
The real Elizabeth Woodville was arrogant, vengeful and ruthless, and determined her relatives should benefit from her marriage. Jacquetta’s matchmaking ensured her other children married the greatest heirs and heiresses in the kingdom. There is a wedding where a very young Katherine Woodville marries Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. (Elizabeth’s brother John, aged 20, married the elderly Duchess of Norfolk, aged 67 – a union described as “diabolical”.)
Staunch Lancastrian Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale) questions Jacquetta’s sudden change of loyalty, but she is determined that her son, Henry Tudor, should become king.
Apart from the magnificent scenery, which was filmed in Belgium, and the fabulous and elaborate costumes, there are a few gaffes including the suspiciously-looking 20th Century drainpipes on the walls when Elizabeth arrives at court. One of Elizabeth’s gowns has a zipper, which was certainly not invented until the 19th Century.
There is some nudity, especially when Edward IV goes skinny-dipping and the usual graphic sex scenes which seem to be mandatory in recent historical dramas.